Travis Kalanick may be the public face of Uber, but he hasn’t built the company by himself.
Like any chief executive, Kalanick leans heavily on his team and direct reports to manage all parts of the business, from people operations internally to putting out regulatory fires externally.
As Uber faces challenges on all fronts in 2017, here’s who is leading the charge internally to make transportation “as reliable as running water.”
When Travis Kalanick asked Jeff Jones how well he did on his TED talk, the then-Target CMO gave him a B-minus and told him he needed to fix his talking points.
That's harsh feedback for Kalanick, but also a valuable insight. As Uber has tried to rein in its free-wheeling city offices, it's needed to fix its global branding problems.
In August, Uber announced that it had poached Jones from Target to become its president of ridesharing, overseeing all of its operations, marketing, and customer support.
Google's former search chief, Amit Singhal, came back out of retirement in January to join Uber as its new SVP of engineering.
In the role, Singhal, who spent 15 years at Google leading its search teams, will be directly advising Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski, the head of Uber's self-driving divisions. He's in charge of overseeing engineering on Uber's marketplace and maps teams -- two key departments that touch the core of Uber's business.
Anthony Levandowski's self-driving car work was famous before he got to Uber. His self-driving motorcycle, Ghostrider, is already in the Smithsonian. He'd been researching autonomous vehicles before he got to Google then built the company's first prototypes. Then Levandowski left Google to start Otto, a self-driving truck startup. In August Uber purchased Otto and all of its employees.
Now, Levandowski is the leader of Uber's autonomous vehicle efforts, reporting directly to Kalanick. He's in charge not only of Pittsburgh, where Uber's Advanced Transportation Center is located, but also the offices in Palo Alto and San Francisco. And Uber isn't only thinking about self-driving cars, it's going to continue Levandowski's work with Otto and go into the trucking industry as well as delivery.
As Uber's chief technology officer, Thuan Pham has been leading Uber's technology staff from a team of 40 to more than 1,200 engineers.
It hasn't been without its challenges -- a report from The Information said Pham was 'deathly afraid' of the consumer app going down as it grows -- but Pham is universally described as the inspirational leader Uber's technology team needs.
If Uber is going to make transportation as reliable as running water, it's going to need to grow to do it. Ed Baker was leading international growth at Facebook before he joined Uber in 2013 to become its VP of growth.
In Baker's charge are the engineers, product managers, and marketing teams that are trying to attract both new riders and drivers to the platform. Uber's growth team is known to value speed and iteration to support its fast-moving marketplace.
In 2016, Baker also added the product team to his charge, making him the new VP of Product and Growth.
When Ryan Graves responded 'heres a tip. email me:)' to a tweet about a startup job, there was no way of knowing Uber would become the $69 billion company it is today.
Graves joined and became its first CEO and general manager from February 2010 until December 2010. At that point, Graves was 'super pumped' that Kalanick (who was 'frickin' pumped') would take over the role.
Graves led Uber's international expansion and growth as its former SVP and head of global operations until Jones joined the company from Target. Graves' new role at the company is as its resident entrepreneur and builder, overseeing UberEverything along with working with Kalanick on special projects.
He's also on Uber's board.
As the regional general manager for US and Canada, Rachel Holt oversees some of Uber's biggest markets, including Washington, D.C., where she is based.
The term 'general manager' doesn't capture how high-ranking of a role it is within Uber's internal structure, and Holt enjoys a close relationship with Kalanick, who sent her an Uber-branded onesie for the birth of her child.
'Uber is a place where the best ideas win. That is because of Travis,' she told Newsweek in an interview. 'And it makes it one of the most rewarding places you can work. If you have a good idea, and you email him with that idea, you'll be the one running that project that week. That's pretty special, and pretty unique, for the CEO of a company as big as Uber.'
'Mac' as he's known for short has been with Uber since the early days, starting in Chicago, one of the first cities where the ride-hailing service was available. Since then, Andrew Macdonald has risen through the ranks, and is now the regional manager of Uber's Latin America and APAC markets.
Before Uber, Macdonald had a different kind of transportation job:
'My summers in University were spent building pick-up trucks at a General Motors factory. 438 trucks per 8-hour shift. There was about 20-30 seconds of downtime in between each truck rolling by, in which I'd quickly read a sentence or two from whatever book I had going. I used to get through a few books a week,' he said in an Uber bio.
Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty is an executive to stand by his company. Based in the Netherland, Gore-Coty is the head of operations for EMEA and former regional general manager for Western Europe.
Gore-Coty made international headlines when he and Uber's France GM were held by French police and charged with deceptive business strategies and illegally operating a taxi company. Europe has been a hotly contested market for the company, and it's been in Gore-Coty's charge to transform it into a successful one.
In November, Uber poached Liane Hornsey, a longtime VP at Google and operating partner at SoftBank, to be its new Chief HR Officer.
Travis Kalanick announced her hiring by calling her 'one of the most sought-after 'people people' in the world'. With Hornsey, Uber has a seasoned executive with public company experience to help manage the $66 billion ride-hailing service's rapidly swelling ranks and to guide it through the various challenges facing startups as they evolve into giant businesses.
Uber is the most valuable private tech company in the world, and Gautam Gupta is in charge of running its finances.
Uber has been missing a CFO for almost a year two years now, but it still has someone behind the scenes looking over the books.
After Brent Callinicos left in March 2015, Gautam Gupta, his 'right hand on strategic finance,' became the head of finance for the ride-hailing company. According to Gupta's H-1B application, he technically holds the title of 'chief financial officer' although Uber has never referred to him as such.
Michael's job was on the line in November 2014 after he made threatening remarks about digging up dirt on a journalist. Michael, the SVP of business development, has stayed with the ride-hailing company since to lead its business and fundraising efforts. He's helped Uber strike deals with companies like Spotify and Pandora, and he also has spent a lot of his time working to grow Uber China, which sold to Didi Chuxing in summer 2016.
While Uber used to come into new cities, elbows flying, the company has been trying to soften its image with a little more negotiating and a little less law flouting.
Uber poached Rachel Whetstone from a similar role at Google to become its new SVP of policy and communications, and her goal is to give Uber a bit of a softer side. It's a delicate balance, and Whetstone has been staffing up on more political talent to maintain good ties with policymakers and regulators.
As chief security officer, Joe Sullivan leads Uber's efforts to do anything security-related, from tracking driver's phones to monitoring speeding to placing Bop-Its in cars to distract unruly passengers.
He's also in charge of making sure the data Uber collects stays secure, especially after a few high-profile mishaps, like a recent breach in which more than 50,000 drivers' personal information was put at risk.
Sullivan has the background to do it. While his career started out as a lawyer fighting cybercrime, Sullivan switched to working within tech companies, starting with eBay. The bulk of his career was spent at Facebook, where he spent eight years shepherding the then young company. His hire in April 2015 was a big poach for Uber, and Sullivan's been luring more ex-Facebookers since.
Uber is no stranger to being hit with legal action, and it's been Yoo's responsibility as general counsel to combat it. Since joining Uber more than four years ago, Yoo has grown Uber's legal team from one to over 100 employees.
One thing that Yoo is also passionate about: equal pay. She's known for asking HR to rerun offer letters if she doesn't think it represents equal pay, and tries to hire female leaders early on her teams.
Droege is an exec who gets a little bit of room to experiment. As head of UberEverything, Droege leads Uber's delivery efforts like UberEATS and UberRush -- two experiments that have gone on to become big business pursuits.
Droege and his team are in charge of choosing which cities would be great for delivery (Barcelona got UberEATS before San Francisco) and terminating the programs that don't work. Droege now reports to Graves who is overseeing Uber's move into delivery logistics.
In December 2015, Uber made a big hire when it brought on Daniel Graf. The Silicon Valley veteran founded and sold his company Kyte before moving to Google where he became famous for bringing Google Maps to the iPhone. After a stint as Twitter's head of product, he took some time off before getting excited about joining Uber. In the last year, he's become indispensable as head of Marketplace, the groups inside Uber that oversee everything from surge pricing to dispatching.
Compared to Lyft's branding of pink fluffy mustaches, Uber's marketing has always been a little bit colder and more professional. While it's never had a Chief Marketing Officer, Uber did finally hire Kellyn Kenny to be its Head of Marketing for the US and Canada in May 2016.
Kenny's role is an important one as Uber fights to gain more customers and drivers and keep them from using rival Lyft. Kenny came to Uber after serving as a VP of marketing for Capital One and a director of marketing for Microsoft's retail stores.
At Google, Brian McClendon was known as the maps guy having been a VP and early leader in the creation of Google Maps and Google Earth.
But after a decade at the search giant, McClendon first joined Uber to oversee its Advanced Technologies Center. He's since moved back to his specialty of mapping and is trying to help Uber move away from relying on Google. He now leads Uber as its VP of Maps and Business Platform, reporting to SVP of engineering Amit Singhal.
Joining the ride-hailing startup after battling a drug addiction, Geidt was the fourth hire at Uber and has been with the company ever since.
As former head of global expansion, she took Uber from one city to more than 400. Now she's working on expanding a new initiative for Uber: its self-driving cars. Geidt is now the head of operations for Uber's Advanced Technologies Center. Helping launch the self-driving car pilots in cities makes Uber 'feel like a startup again.'
With Ola as a fierce competitor, Uber tapped Jain to run its entire India unit in June 2015. The former president of Rent.Com moved to New Dehli from Silicon Valley and is now in charge of everything Uber does in the country, an area that Kalanick has promised to spend $1 billion to gain market share.
One of his lead projects as president of Uber India is to bring on 50,000 women drivers in the country by 2020.
Leading the fight for Uber in the UK, Ireland, and Nordic countries, Bertram is no stranger to conflict. The UK has seen some of the biggest protests against the ride-hailing company, and Bertram herself has been a target of Twitter trolls in the process.
As regional general manager for Northern Europe and the public face for Uber in those countries, Bertram is in charge of all the operations, policy, and new product launches in countries still addicted to using black cabs.
Jeff Holden used to serve as Chief Product Officer for Uber, helping build out UberPOOL and dreaming up a future of autonomous cars. One of his biggest projects was the Carnegie Mellon deal and subsequent research operations into building autonomous cars.
Holden joined Uber in 2014 from Groupon, but that's likely not the experience Kalanick hired him for. Before that, Holden was a key player at Amazon and has been described as the 'mercury' planet orbiting closest to Bezos' Sun, according to Brad Stone's book, 'The Everything Store.'
While he used to have the CPO title, Holden's focus now is on the company's special projects, which includes far-out ideas like flying hovercrafts to transport us all.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.